PBA in Europe

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EPBA Overview:

The Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis has pioneered the Plant Breeding Academy, a program designed and tailored for seed industry personnel. It provides a rare opportunity to develop talents within the Seed Industry. This Academy offers a unique curriculum that matches and exceeds the depth and breadth of a traditional Ph.D., as it is solely dedicated to the field of Plant Breeding and is taught by experienced plant breeders. This program specifically addresses the growing concern regarding the limited availability of trained plant breeders emerging from academic programs. Through initiatives like the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy, seed associations such as ASTA, Euroseeds, and their member companies actively support a dynamic ecosystem that promotes ongoing learning, collaboration, and the relentless pursuit of excellence in the field of plant breeding. Since 2006, the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy has graduated more than 400 students, making a significant contribution to driving innovation and meeting the evolving challenges of plant breeding. Over two years, participants engage in six immersive sessions across Europe and ending in Davis, CA (USA).

Course goal: This course develops the skills and abilities of current industry personnel to enable them to become independent breeders or more valuable contributors to larger breeding programs.

Who should attend? The course is targeted toward personnel currently involved in plant breeding programs who lack the academic background in genetics theory and practice to advance as independent breeders. Current breeders who desire a refresher course or would like to broaden their expertise would also be potential participants.

Class locations and dates:

Session 1-5 of the EPBA course are located in European countries and session 6 takes place at UC Davis in California, USA. This schedule will allow participants to maintain their current employment while enrolled in the course. In-person attendance at all six sessions is required to graduate.  The schedule below was revised in January 2024. Any schedule changes will be relayed to participants well in advance of each session. 

Year 1
March 24-29, 2025 – Enkhuizen, Netherlands
June 23-28, 2025 – Angers, France
October 13-18, 2025 – Gent, Belgium
Year 2
March 23-28, 2026 – Almeria, Spain
June 22-27, 2026 – Gatersleben, Germany
October 5-9, 2026 - Davis, CA

(These dates are confirmed but subject to change by UC Davis at any time)

Applications & Tuition:

Application Process: To provide a personalized learning environment, the program is limited to 20 participants. Applicants should complete the online form and separately email a resume in order to be considered for enrollment. Applicants' background and experience will be reviewed to ensure they meet the minimal requirements before acceptance. Applicants must have a Bachelor of Science degree (or demonstrate equivalent professional experience) and have taken introductory courses in statistics and genetics. Practical experience, academic standing (GPA or equivalent) and rationale for participation in the Academy will be evaluated. Among applicants meeting the program requirements, acceptance will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Acceptance is not secured until paperwork is signed and the deposit is received.

Tuition: (All EPBA pricing is in Euros)  The cost of participating is 23,900 Euros (or 22,900 Euros if you apply before the early registration deadline), which includes all course materials and fees, along with lunches and breaks during the six sessions. Additional tours of seed research and production facilities will also be incorporated into each session. The tours are designed to balance the classroom instruction with seed and agricultural industry experiences in each of the five host countries. Travel, accommodations and other meals during in-residence sessions are not included. A non-refundable deposit of 1,000 Euros will be due within 30 days of acceptance into the Academy, and will be applied toward tuition.

The EPBA VIII early registration deadline is September 15, 2024. Apply before this date and receive 1,000 € off your tuition!

An invoice requesting the balance of the first year's tuition (half of the total tuition, after the deposit is paid) will be sent minimum three months prior to the start of the course. The second tuition payment will be due prior to the start of the second year. Exact due dates will be listed on your invoice document. No refunds will be issued after a payment is made. Payment procedures will be provided to applicants following acceptance into the Academy.

(Tuition rates are tentative until EPBA VIII applications open and subject to change by UC Davis at any time)

EPBA Instructors & Curriculum:

The UC Davis European Plant Breeding Academy is designed to balance lectures, discussions, workshops and field trips with commercial breeders to enhance the experience across breeding systems, crops and countries.

Primary Instructors: 

  • Dr. Alexandra Tomerius, AIB
  • Dr. Rita Mumm, University of Illinois
  • Dr. Jovan Djordjevic, UC Davis
  • Dr. Allen Van Deynze, UC Davis
  • Dr. Robert Dirks, Managerial Genetics Consulting
  • Jaap Hoogstraten 
  • Dr. Kent Bradford, UC Davis

Learn More About the EPBA Instructors

Guest Instructors (partial list)

  • Dr. Kendra Armstrong, Crop Convergence
  • Dr. Imtiyaz Khanday, UC Davis
  • Dr. Ken Owens
  • Dr. Jay Patel, former Research Fellow, Corteva
  • Dr. Johan Peleman, Peleman Management
  • PLUS contribution by numerous scientists and breeders in host countries


The curriculum is being developed by instructors with input from industry leaders. The following topics will be covered during each course:

Introduction to plant breeding

  • Plant breeding objectives
  • Germplasm resources
  • Crop evolution
  • Reproductive systems


  • Probabilities
  • Analysis of variance
  • Mean separations
  • Linear regression
  • Analysis of covariance
  • Experimental designs


  • Transmission genetics
  • Population genetics (HW, selection, migration, mutation)
  • Inbreeding
  • Quantitative genetics model
  • Breeding value
  • Covariance among relatives
  • Theory of heterosis

Selection theory

  • Heritability
  • Principles of selection and the gain equation
  • Extension to relevant selection models

Recombination and population development

  • Selection limits
  • Effective population size
  • Linkage drag
  • Fixing favorable alleles
  • Polyploidy
  • Interspecific hybridization

Selection methods

  • Single trait selection: mass selection, line selection, multiple stage selection
  • Multiple trait selection: independent culling, tandem selection, selection indices
  • Indirect selection methods: theory
  • Linkage disequilibrium
  • Indirect selection methods: conventional breeding

Establishing and monitoring goals and priorities

  • Population improvement vs cultivar development
  • Minimum standards, intermediate optima, and directional response

Breeding methods

  • Line Breeding: bulk, pedigree, backcross
  • Population improvement
  • Inbred line development
  • Evaluating hybrids and combining ability

Breeding with Molecular Markers

  • Bases and availability of markers
  • Population structure
  • Parental selection
  • QTL
  • Bioinformatics/Databases
  • Marker assisted selection and backcrossing
  • Genomic selection

Genotype by environment interactions

  • GxE and decisions in population development
  • Genetic correlation: treatment of GxE
  • Selection environment: single vs multiple environments
  • Designs to control GxE
  • Variance component analysis

Breeding systems

  • Breeding for hybrids
  • Genetic control of pollination: sex expression, self-incompatibility, male sterility
  • Breeding cultivars
  • Breeding clones
  • Breeding populations (synthetics)

Resistance breeding

  • Diseases
  • Insects
  • Abiotic stress

Special topics

  • Mutation breeding
  • Biotechnology (transgenic)
  • Reverse breeding
  • Mechanization in plant breeding
  • Counter season nurseries
  • High throughput phenotyping
  • Data management

Finishing varieties

  • Cultivars vs hybrids
  • Protecting varieties and intellectual property
  • Seed certification
  • Seed production, biology and quality

Advanced module (optional)

  • Multivariate selection
  • Linear and mixed models
  • BLUPs
  • Advanced genomic selection
  • Advanced experimental designs

If you have specific questions about the curriculum covered in EPBA, please contact SBC Director of Education, Jovan Djordjevic at jdjordjevic@ucdavis.edu

If you have any other questions about EPBA or your application, contact Whitney Lowe at wlowe@ucdavis.edu. 

Or Check out our FAQ page


Click Here to Submit Your EPBA VIII Application